POLICE SHOCK: Cambs Police underspend by £3.3 million
By JOHN ELWORTHY CASH strapped Cambs Police – fighting to get more Government money to cope with problems posed by an influx of migrant workers- disclosed today it had underspent by £3.3 million last year. The force attributed some of the biggest savings
By JOHN ELWORTHY
CASH strapped Cambs Police - fighting to get more Government money to cope with problems posed by an influx of migrant workers- disclosed today it had underspent by £3.3 million last year.
The force attributed some of the biggest savings to officers leaving Cambridgeshire faster than they could be replaced and a £300,000 bonus achieved by not having to back date the police pay review.
Chief Constable Julie Spence revealed that pay budgets for 2007/08 were based on a force of 1,401 but actual strength for the year "fell significantly short of establishment" giving rise to a £2.2 million underspend
"The Home Secretary's decision not to backdate the police officer pay rise to September 1, 2007, which represents a budget saving of some £300,000, has also contributed to the underspend," said Mrs Spence.
A freeze on recruiting at the beginning of the last financial year had also delayed recruiting - and funding - 16 new officers, says a report to the Cambridgeshire Police Authority.
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New figures released by the authority show the force underspent last year by nearly 3 per cent of its annual budget.
"One of the principal reasons for the underlying underspend is the shortfall in police officer strength against establishment," said Mrs Spence.
This had a consequential effect on pensions, support and supplies spending, partly offset by overspending on police overtime.
In a report to Thursday's finance and general purposes committee she said that at the start of the financial year a decision was taken to suspend an intake of 16 recruits to ensure the budget was not overspent.
"However during the year some 106 police officers left Cambridgeshire for a variety of reasons, including transfers to other areas (51) and retirements (35). As all forces are now responsible for training their own officers, it was not possible to adjust the intake of new recruits as quickly as we would have liked."
She said a downturn in unplanned major operations had also been a major factor affecting spending and "while this is obviously a good thing for Cambridgeshire it has seen reductions in spending in the investigations directorate across a range of budgets, including operational consultants."
Other savings noted during the year included having only three officers retire on ill health grounds- less than expected- and a new way of dealing with identity parades had also shaved £106,000 off planned expenditure.
Employing multi lingual support officers had also reduced the expected sum spent on interpreters and there was a bonus, too, from mobile phone masts.
"A favourable variance of £697,000 is reported which is attributable to rental income from mobile phone mast sites due in preceding years but identified and invoiced in this," said the chief constable.
Mrs Spence said the authority had looked at all areas of spending- and had even saved money on police officers' clothing.
"We have moved from a policy of three shirts per year for all officers to replacement when needed," she said.